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“Nate fucked up. He’s always been a screw-up. I’ve always been there to clean up his messes, but I was a fool not to really see his destruction until now.”

Mayhem cupped the back of her head.

“I mean, I knew he was destructive, but this whole situation with the Cardonas crossed the line, and then your club got involved. Someone is hanging on to his life, and all I can feel is this hatred for Nate, even if I’m worried about him.”

She squeezed her eyes tight.

“I’m sorry about getting you involved and getting your club mixed up and hurt because of my brother and his issues.”

“Shh,” he said, and pulled back to look down at her. “You don’t need to apologize. I knew what I was getting into when I gave you the money, and my club knew what the fuck they were doing when they insisted on coming with me last night.” He smoothed his thumbs over her cheeks. “Your brother is one big fuck-up. I won’t lie about that, but I can understand loyalty and love, even in the face of carelessness and selfishness.”

“As much as I’m so angry with him, he’s all I have.” She rose on her toes and kissed him softly, and she saw the way his nostrils flared and a brief flash of surprise covered his expression. “But the apology and thank you wasn’t the only reason I wanted to talk to you.”

“No?” He sounded harder, his voice thicker.

She took a deep breath, knowing she wanted to be totally honest, even if it would sound a bit crazy. “We hardly know each other aside from the sexual aspect of this situation.” She swallowed past the lump in her throat. “But when I’m with you, I feel something else. Something stronger. It started to become more than sex with me, if that even makes sense.”

She saw him open his mouth as if he was about to say something, but she shook her head, stopping him.

“Let me finish, please,” she whispered. “And then last night when I didn’t know if you’d been hurt, I got so worried. I felt like there was this tearing in my chest at the thought that something had happened to you.”

“Butters,” he groaned out her name and closed his eyes for a second. “Baby, I am so fucking glad you said that.”

She was a bit surprised, because honestly, she hadn’t known what he would say, but she hadn’t thought he’d be happy about this. Mayhem seemed like a man who didn’t like surprises, and she thought admitting how she felt would have been one big shock.

“You are?”

He nodded. “I have wanted you from the very beginning. It might have just been about fucking when I was trying to get at you, but I realized I would never have offered to help you in the way I did if I didn’t feel more for you. You’re something special, and I don’t want you to leave after this week is over.”

Her heart started beating faster.

“Call me a selfish bastard or a sentimental fucker, I don’t care, but it’s the truth. Thinking about any other asshole touching you, hell, just talking or looking at you makes me feel so possessive, and I know that means something. You mean something pretty fucking special to me, baby.”

Her breath left her in a whoosh, and she threw her arms around his neck, holding herself close to him.

“I want you as my old lady. I want you as my woman.”

Until he’d said those words, she hadn’t realized how much she’d wanted that.

“Do you want that, baby?”

She nodded and smiled. “Fuck yeah.”

He started laughing, and then leaned down and kissed her on the mouth. The kiss started off slow and easy, but it took no time at all to become heated and intense.

Mayhem grabbed Butters behind her head, tangled his fingers in her hair, pulled her impossibly closer, and groaned against her mouth.

They were really doing this, just jumping in head first.

He pulled back, breathing hard, heavy. They stared at each other for several seconds, the heat and arousal bouncing between them and intensifying until she was suffocating from it.

She pulled back another inch, trying to breathe, trying to get more air into her lungs.

“I want you so badly right now, baby.” His voice was low, hoarse, and there was a touch of dominance in it. There was a part of Mayhem—a massive part—that commanded people without having to do much more than give them a look.

She supposed that’s what made him such a badass VP in the club, that had people afraid of him and what he could do.

“Tell me again you want to be mine,” he said and looked down at her lips.

“I want you. I want to be with you,” she said without hesitation.

He closed his eyes and breathed out. “Butters, baby,” he said softly. He brushed the pad of his thumb along her cheek again.

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